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Why Content Marketers Need to go Green

You may think today's blog post looks a lot like a page from your recent ebook. Trust us: No one else will notice.
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In October, the Content Marketing Institute and MarketingProfs published their annual report on B2B content marketing benchmarks, budgets, and trends. The report found that the biggest challenge faced by content marketers are a lack of time and not being able to produce enough content. While both of these issues underscore just how difficult it can be to scale a content marketing program, they also share a common solution: To succeed at content marketing, you’ve got to go green.

It’s a simple concept, but repackaging, repurposing, and recycling content is one of the only ways to make content marketing scalable at no extra cost. The idea is to ensure that every piece of content you create serves multiple purposes and gets re-used at least once or twice. Doing so has a couple of benefits. It allows you to quickly ramp up the amount of content you are creating without a lot of extra effort, since it’s easier to repurpose something than to create it from scratch. It also helps you get your message out in a variety of formats, which increases the chances of your audience finding it. 

You need to have a strategy in place to really make content recycling work. Here are three ways to approach it:

1. Break your big content down into smaller pieces.

The true value of a large piece of content isn’t just the asset itself, but also all of the smaller pieces of content that you can turn it into. For example, if you produce an eBook, think about using its contents as material for a series of blog posts, a presentation that you post to SlideShare, a webinar, or even a month’s worth of tweets. Doing so will help you increase the shelf life of that original piece of content while also allowing you to boost your output without taxing your resources.

2. Combine your small pieces of content into something bigger.

The same principle also works in reverse. If your company primarily produces short-form content (e.g., blog posts, articles, and podcasts), take inventory of that content and look for common themes. You will likely find opportunities to repackage those smaller pieces into a larger, more substantive resource such as a white paper or a report. The key is to re-imagine the content that you have already created in a way that produces something valuable and new.

3. Got a winner? Rinse and repeat.

When you create something that your audience really likes and shares, don’t stop there. Turn it into a series of evergreen content that can be republished or recycled on a regular basis. For instance, if you publish a report on an industry trend that elicits a strong response, repeat that success by creating other similar reports and updating and re-releasing them every year.

It sounds easy enough, right? But repackaging, repurposing, and recycling content is still hard work. It may not take as many resources or as much time as creating fresh content, but it does require a lot of forethought, planning, and alignment. It also assumes that your content is good enough to be reused. 

If you’re worried that people will pick up on your little secret and start to complain, stop fooling yourself. You may be acutely aware that yesterday’s blog post looks an awful lot like a page from last month’s eBook, but no one else will notice. Unless you have an audience of super users (may we all be so lucky!), no one is going to be consuming all of your content all of the time. They’ll be none the wiser. You’ll find that you are not only able to produce enough content, but that you may even have time to spare. That’s enough to make most content marketers green with envy.

Last updated: Nov 21, 2013

KEVIN CAIN | Columnist

Kevin Cain is the Director of Content Strategy at OpenView Venture Partners. With expertise in corporate communications and content marketing, Kevin has spent the past ten years working in the financial services and economic consulting industries. He is the author of the eBook It Takes a Content Factory.

The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.



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